Public evangelism has proved to be the most important and successful means of winning converts to the remnant church. Conditions in the countries of the Far East necessitate a variety of methods, adapted to the customs and conditions of the respective fields. In some localities it is difficult to secure permission to hold public religious meetings. Another difficulty is to find suitable places for meetings within the scope of the limited mission budget. Halls are often not obtainable.
Tents are being used in some sections to good advantage during that portion of the year when the weather is most favorable. The damp climate, heavy rains, and typhoons make tents impracticable in many places for the greater part of the year. When tents are used, it is often difficult to secure a vacant lot in a central location. Even after a lot is found, the owner may be reluctant to /ease it for Christian meetings because of the prejudice of his neighbors. Then, too, he must be cautious, for in some Oriental countries permission to pitch a tent or erect a mat shed on leased land gives certain rights to the occupant that makes it exceedingly difficult for the owner to get possession of his land again. It may take him months, and cost him considerable to force the tenant to give up his "squatters' rights."
Unless our meetings are held in places where the people have some Christian background, it is generally necessary for the worker to spend much time preparing the field before he conducts the public effort. Visiting from door to door, using our papers and books, talking with the people regarding current events, and, where possible, giving Bible studies, are methods that can be used. Suggestions that will help the people physically, and literature on health topics, usually appeal. All this personal effort takes time and much hard work. Fortunately, our staff of colporteurs is increasing. and they do much of this pioneer work as they cover the field with literature. Much has bzen done to bring out a more attractive literature during recent years, and a better variety is increasingly available as more and more of our books are translated, or new ones are written by men in the field.
The daily paper and the radio are doing much to inform the native peoples of the Far East of world events, and to awaken in the minds of the masses a desire to know more about what other peoples are doing and thinking. Great changes have come in recent years, and more and more the need for public evaneglism is being emphasized throughout the fields. We have secured the privilege of broadcasting from a Manila station. These programs are very well received, not only in the Philippine Islands, but they reach into other sections of the division as well. Aside from the Philippines, the broadcasting stations in our field are quite restrictive, and thus far we have not been able to arrange for time on the air. No doubt the radio will yet be the means of reaching the masses in countries where illiteracy is so prevalent, and the people cannot read the literature we distribute.
Perhaps the cheapest and most effective method of advertising is by picture. A lantern and a few slides are a real help to the public evangelist in drawing a crowd. Christian music, which appeals so much in some places, is not so effective in the Orient, except where the people have been educated to appreciate music. Our greatest need is for trained indigenous evangelists. While there are difficulties to encounter as we plan evangelistic meetings in the Far East, men of vision, training, and determination will make a way, and will find ample opportunities.
In fields where the workers have had the privilege of attending our own schools, the question is not so acute. In fields where the work is young and the converts have had little opportunity to receive education or field training, there the need is greatest. The foreign missionary's first task in such fields is to gather the most promising converts, and by instruction and personal example lead them into successful methods of evangelism. If the missionary himself does not properly evaluate public evangelism, he will not give the indigenous workers who are developing under his leadership a clear vision of the importance of preaching.
In cities where there is a large English-speaking population, efforts much like those conducted in America and Europe can be successfully conducted. There are places in the Orient where the foreign evangelist can successfully hold public efforts in tabernacles erected for the purpose. With him there should be associated a corps of national workers who would benefit by this kind of training, and who could later go out to carry on just such meetings themselves. I believe we could do much by this method to train evangelists in many sections of our territory, and raise up strong churches in many of the cities of the Orient. Public evangelism will doubtless be one of the most successful ways of sounding the message in these lands. It demands more consideration than has been given it in the past.